Monday, November 22, 2021

________________________ SPRING IS SPRUNG ________________________

 Nest to the north of the jetty

'Spring is sprung, the grass is rizz, I wonder where the birdies is ? .......'

....... which is how the doggerel goes ............. and Christine answered the question when she came back from her walk at the Whangarei 'Loop Walk' to tell me about some beautiful little birds nesting on some old piles close to a jetty that juts out into the river from the walking path. There were three birds nesting on three different piles in the river, the closet bird defending her nest with loud squawks when I came too close. 

"The New Zealand fairy tern or tara-iti is a subspecies of the fairy tern endemic to New Zealand. It is New Zealand's rarest native breeding bird, with about 40 individuals left in the wild. It nests at four coastal locations between Whangarei and Auckland in the North Island."

Nest to the south of the jetty - (Te Matau ā Pohe - The Whangarei lifting bridge in the background)

Nest to the north of the jetty with the Hatea river in the background.


Sunday, November 14, 2021

________________ VERTUE XXXV AND KEVIN O'RIORDAN ________________

A painting of Vertue XXXV at the point where she is hit by the crest of a huge wave during a hurricane, was thrown onto her beams end and suffered considerable damage. The painting is by K.W. Rainbow, a well known marine artist and was a gift by the artist to Kevin O'Riordan. This painting and all other photographs on this posting have been supplied by Kevins grandson Alastair O'Riordan and remain his copyright.

A few years ago I posted about the Laurent Giles designed Vertue class yacht called 'Vertue XXXV' and the celebrated voyage of this boat written about by the boats skipper Humphrey Barton here:

The very capable crew on this voyage was Kevin O'Riordan who features strongly in the books narrative. Recently I received an email from Kevin O'Riordans grandson Alastair O'Riordan asking me if I would be interested in some photographs and a couple of historical recordings concerning this voyage. It is the information made available to me by Alastair that make up the substance of this blog posting.

The two recordings (below) are interesting. There is an immediacy that spans the years and shrinks the distance. The first is a NBC interview in New York shortly after arriving in America. The second are reminisces of Kevin O'Riordans earlier sailing years. Both are very interesting and informative for aficionados of Vertue design yachts and small boat sailing in general and Vertue XXXVs voyage in particular.

Recording - Kevin O'Riordan -  NBC interview in New York (above)

Recording - Kevin O'Riordan - Sailing Reminisces (above)

This is the telegram that was sent to Kevin O'Riordan by Humphrey Barton asking Kevin to join him in a trial cruise with the possibility of a crossing of the Atlantic from the UK to the USA.

Kevin O'Riordan was the navigator on the trip (Barton was skipper and cook) and this is the original chart that he used. The chart is older than I am. The plotting on the this piece of paper took place a few years before I was born - so that makes the chart over 70 years old. The blue track on the chart above the plotted daily position line is I think either a comparative rhumb line or 'great circle' route. 

An interesting piece of serendipity / syncronicity was shared to me by Alastair O'Riordan regarding his grandfathers full name [ Kevin Moran O'Riordan] in an email to me - ".............. amazingly the first boat they saw at New York was a tug the 'Kevin Moran' - his first names - and the business was run by a family connection hence his second name. When I was very young I couldn't understand why he got the Moran Tug News every quarter".  

Alastair sent me this photograph of Vertue XXXV leaving on her great voyage. It is exactly the same as the photograph in Bartons book, except that it is clearer and has Vertue XXXV on the starboard tack - in the book the boat is on the port tack - so one of the photographs is a reverse image! A small matter, but curious none the less.

I am a great fan of the Vertue class yacht, a small very capable little boat that has completed some remarkable voyages - including Cape Horn journeys. There are a number of books written by Vertue skippers and there is a swag of information on the internet.

I am also a great fan of the voyage of Vertue XXXV. This voyage takes its rightful place in the early sailing pantheon - a gutsy early post WW2 small boat voyage of high adventure including a battering from a ferocious hurricane - both boat and crew using great seamanship and determination to see the trip through to the end. A voyage without the modern aids of a liferaft, radio telephone, satellite navigation, chart plotters etc, etc - a simpler time where your life was in the hands of your own seamanship and a sound seaworthy little ship - as Vertue XXXV proved to be.

Viewing these photos and listening to the recordings of Kevin O'Riordans voice has been a wonderful extension to Bartons book. A book that I read when I was around 15 years of age - 55 years ago! There was an immediacy in listening to his voice that was uncanny. Thank you Alastair for your kindness in sharing these artifacts.